Have you ever felt like a disappointment to God? Like He asked a favor of you…and you blew it? Perhaps you wonder how Jesus could still love you after everything you’ve done to upset Him?
There’s one place in the Bible where Jesus explicitly describes His heart, and it isn’t with words like angry or demanding. Matthew 11:28–30 tells us that Jesus is “gentle and lowly in heart” (ESV). He calls us to follow Him not because He wants to be a tyrant over us, but because He wants to take our burdens from us and give us a lighter load.
Dane Ortlund’s book on this topic, appropriately named Gentle and Lowly, explores the heart of Christ and why this self-description is so important. And for those who would argue that Jesus’s heart is love while God the Father’s heart is wrathful vengeance, Ortlund touches on Old Testament passages that demonstrate this is not the case.
While this book opens the door for deeper theological study through means of Greek and Hebrew translations, background context, historical Puritan writings, etc., I would also recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet time devotional. It’s simple to understand, and the chapters are bite-sized so as not to overwhelm the reader with so much knowledge that we forget the whole point—knowing Jesus.
It can be hard to break free from past thought patterns, but Gentle and Lowly shows Jesus for who He really is—a deep well we can drink from when we’re thirsty, but also a friend we can go to for a quick conversation. This particular passage stood out to me as I was reading:
“Through his Spirit, Christ’s own heart envelopes his people with an embrace nearer and tighter than any physical embrace could ever achieve. His actions on earth in a body reflected his heart; the same heart now acts in the same ways toward us, for we are now his body.”
Ortlund uses several passages from Hebrews and elsewhere in the Bible, along with quotes from authors such as Thomas Goodwin and John Bunyan, to show that God is a million times more loving than we often allow ourselves to believe. He does not ignore the reality of sin, or the need for justice, but reminds us that born-again saints have no need to be afraid of judgment. The God who is the Lion is also the Lamb, sacrificed that we may be cleansed and forgiven.
Too often, we dwell on our own human performances and chastise ourselves for being so flawed; yet God was aware of our shortcomings when He went to the cross! The pages of Gentle and Lowly encourage readers to not look on their sin and feel sorry, but rather to look on the Savior and feel safe.
If you’re suffering from feelings of guilt or shame, this book is for you. The subtitle invites “sinners and sufferers” to know the heart of Christ—a heart that is gentle enough and lowly enough to take us back time and time again. He is not waiting for us to be perfect; He wants us to come to Him as we are because He knows precisely how to fix us up. In the words of Ortlund: “As long as you fix your attention on your sin, you will fail to see how you can be safe. But as long as you look to this high priest [Jesus], you will fail to see how you can be in danger.”
I could quote many other passages that hit home and touched me, but it would be more beneficial for you to read the book for yourself! It’s sure to be a refreshing reminder that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion, and will encourage you to return to your first love. The truths it presents will leave you in awe of the Savior, wanting to know more of His gentle and lowly heart. Knowing God is not a burden, it is a joy!
I invite you to reflect on that truth today and honestly ask yourself if your sin or your Savior has more of your attention. It’s okay if you still feel wilted—we all do at times! But God longs to remind us we are most welcome in His presence; and not just welcome, but wanted.
You are safe in Him.
When was the last time you went to Jesus for rest and experienced His gentle and lowly heart?
Comment down below, Roses, and let’s uplift each other!
Article Written By
Nicole Ashley is a young writer devoted to using her words for the glory of God. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her talking with friends, reading a book, or simply being an introvert with music in her headphones. Connect with her on her blog at cocoschitchat.com or on Instagram and Twitter @cocoashley_413.